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Idi Amin

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Idi Amin

Idi Amin
Amin addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 1975
3rd President of Uganda
In office
25 January 1971 – 11 April 1979
Vice President Mustafa Adrisi
Preceded by Milton Obote
Succeeded by Yusufu Lule
Personal details
Born Idi Dada
c. 1923–1928
Koboko, Uganda Protectorate
Died 16 August 2003 (2003-08-16) (aged 78)
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Nationality Ugandan
Spouse(s) Malyamu (divorced)
Kay (divorced)
Nora (divorced)
Madina (widow)
Sarah Kyolaba (widow)
Children 43 (estimate)[1]
Religion Islam
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Ugandan Army
Years of service 1946–1962 (UK)
1962–1979 (Uganda)
Rank Lieutenant (UK)
Field Marshal
Unit King's African Rifles
Commands Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces
Battles/wars Shifta War
Mau Mau Uprising
1971 Ugandan coup d'état
Uganda-Tanzania War

Idi Amin Dada (; c. 1923-28 – 16 August 2003) was the third President of Uganda, ruling from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles, in 1946, serving in Kenya and Uganda. Eventually, Amin held the rank of major general in the post-colonial Ugandan Army, and became its commander before seizing power in the military coup of January 1971, deposing Milton Obote. He later promoted himself to field marshal while he was the head of state.

Amin's rule was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is estimated by international observers and human rights groups to range from 100,000[2] to 500,000.[3]

During his years in power, Amin shifted in allegiance from being a pro-Western ruler enjoying considerable Pan-Africanist group designed to promote solidarity of the African states.[7] During the 1977–1979 period, Uganda was a member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.[8] In 1977, when Britain broke diplomatic relations with Uganda, Amin declared he had defeated the British and added "CBE", for "Conqueror of the British Empire", to his title. Radio Uganda then announced his entire title: "his Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Alhaji Dr. Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE".[3]

Dissent within Uganda and Amin's attempt to annex the Kagera province of Tanzania in 1978, led to the Uganda–Tanzania War and the demise of his eight-year regime, leading Amin to flee into exile to Libya and then Saudi Arabia, where he lived until his death on 16 August 2003.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Colonial British Army 1.2
    • Commander of the Army 1.3
    • Seizure of power 1.4
    • Presidency 1.5
      • Establishment of military rule 1.5.1
      • Persecution of ethnic and political groups 1.5.2
      • International relations 1.5.3
    • Deposition and exile 1.6
    • Death 1.7
  • Family and associates 2
  • Erratic behaviour, self-bestowed titles, and media portrayal 3
  • Portrayal in media and literature 4
    • Film and television dramatisations 4.1
    • Documentaries 4.2
    • Books 4.3
    • Music and audio 4.4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Sources 7
  • External links 8


Early life

Amin never wrote an autobiography nor did he authorize any official written account of his life, so there are discrepancies regarding when and where he was born. Most biographical sources hold that he was born in either Koboko or Kampala around 1925.[1] Other unconfirmed sources state Amin's year of birth from as early as 1923 to as late as 1928. Amin's son Hussein has stated that his father was born in Kampala in 1928.[11] According to Fred Guweddeko, a researcher at Makerere University, Idi Amin was the son of Andreas Nyabire (1889–1976). Nyabire, a member of the Kakwa ethnic group, converted from Roman Catholicism to Islam in 1910, and changed his name to Amin Dada. He named his first-born son after himself. Abandoned by his father at a young age, Idi Amin grew up with his mother's family in a rural farming town in northwestern Uganda. Guweddeko states that Amin's mother was Assa Aatte (1904–1970), an ethnic Lugbara and a traditional herbalist who treated members of Buganda royalty, among others. Amin joined an Islamic school in Bombo in 1941. After a few years, he left school with only a fourth-grade English-language education, and did odd jobs before being recruited to the army by a British colonial army officer.[9]

Colonial British Army

Chronology of Amin's military promotions
King's African Rifles
1946 Joined the King's African Rifles
1947 Private
1952 Corporal
1953 Sergeant
1958 Sergeant major (acting as platoon commander)
1959 Effendi (warrant officer)
1961 Lieutenant (one of the first two Ugandan officers)
Uganda Army
1962 Captain
1963 Major
1964 Deputy Commander of the Army
1965 Colonel, Commander of the Army
1968 Major general
1971 Head of state
Chairman of the Defence Council
Commander-in-chief of the armed forces
Army Chief of Staff and Chief of Air Staff
1975 Field Marshal

Amin joined the King's African Rifles (KAR) of the British Colonial Army in 1946, as an assistant cook.[12] In later life he falsely claimed he was forced to join the Army during World War II and that he served in the Burma Campaign.[3][13][14] He was transferred to Kenya for infantry service as a private in 1947, and served in the 21st KAR infantry battalion in Gilgil, Kenya until 1949. That year his unit was deployed to Northern Kenya to fight against Somali rebels in the Shifta War. In 1952, his brigade was deployed against the Mau Mau rebels in Kenya. He was promoted to corporal the same year, then to sergeant in 1953.[9]

In 1959, Amin was made Afande (warrant officer), the highest rank possible for a Black African in the colonial British Army of that time. Amin returned to Uganda the same year and, in 1961, he was promoted to lieutenant, becoming one of the first two Ugandans to become commissioned officers. He was assigned to quell the cattle rustling between Uganda's Karamojong and Kenya's Turkana nomads. In 1962, following Uganda's independence from the United Kingdom, Amin was promoted to captain and then, in 1963, to major. He was appointed Deputy Commander of the Army in 1964 and, the following year, to Commander of the Army.[9] In 1970, he was promoted to commander of all the armed forces.[15]

Amin was an athlete during his time in both the British and Ugandan army. At 193 cm (6 ft 4 in) tall and powerfully built, he was the Ugandan light heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, as well as a swimmer. Idi Amin was also a formidable rugby forward,[16][17] although one officer said of him: "Idi Amin is a splendid type and a good (rugby) player, but virtually bone from the neck up, and needs things explained in words of one letter".[17][18] In the 1950s, he played for Nile RFC.[19] There is a frequently repeated urban myth[17][19] that he was selected as a replacement by East Africa for their match against the 1955 British Lions. Amin, however, does not appear on the team photograph or on the official team list.[20] Following conversations with a colleague in the British Army, Amin became a keen fan of Hayes Football Club – an affection that would remain for the rest of his life.[21]

Commander of the Army

In 1965, Prime Minister Milton Obote and Amin were implicated in a deal to smuggle ivory and gold into Uganda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The deal, as later alleged by General Nicholas Olenga, an associate of the former Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, was part of an arrangement to help troops opposed to the Congolese government trade ivory and gold for arms supplies secretly smuggled to them by Amin. In 1966, the Ugandan Parliament demanded an investigation. Obote imposed a new constitution abolishing the ceremonial presidency held by Kabaka (King) Mutesa II of Buganda, and declared himself executive president. He promoted Amin to colonel and army commander. Amin led an attack on the Kabaka's palace and forced Mutesa into exile to the United Kingdom, where he remained until his death in 1969.[22][23]

Amin began recruiting members of Kakwa, Lugbara, South Sudanese, and other ethnic groups from the West Nile area bordering South Sudan. The South Sudanese had been residents in Uganda since the early 20th century, having come from South Sudan to serve the colonial army. Many African ethnic groups in northern Uganda inhabit both Uganda and South Sudan; allegations persist that Amin's army consisted mainly of South Sudanese soldiers.[24]

Seizure of power

Milton Obote, Uganda's second President, whom Amin overthrew in a coup d'état in 1971

Eventually a rift developed between Amin and Obote, exacerbated by the support Amin had built within the army by recruiting from the West Nile region, his involvement in operations to support the rebellion in southern Sudan and an attempt on Obote's life in 1969. In October 1970, Obote took control of the armed forces, reducing Amin from his months-old post of commander of all the armed forces to that of commander of the army.[15]

Having learned that Obote was planning to arrest him for misappropriating army funds, Amin seized power in a military coup on 25 January 1971, while Obote was attending a Commonwealth summit meeting in Singapore. Troops loyal to Amin sealed off Entebbe International Airport and took Kampala. Soldiers surrounded Obote's residence and blocked major roads. A broadcast on Radio Uganda accused Obote's government of corruption and preferential treatment of the Lango region. Cheering crowds were reported in the streets of Kampala after the radio broadcast.[25] Amin announced that he was a soldier, not a politician, and that the military government would remain only as a caretaker regime until new elections, which would be announced when the situation was normalised. He promised to release all political prisoners.[26]

Amin gave former King (Kabaka) of Buganda and President, Sir Edward Mutesa (who had died in exile), a state funeral in April 1971, freed many political prisoners, and reiterated his promise to hold free and fair elections to return the country to democratic rule in the shortest period possible.[27]


Establishment of military rule

On 2 February 1971, one week after the coup, Amin declared himself President of Uganda, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Army Chief of Staff, and Chief of Air Staff. He announced that he was suspending certain provisions of the Ugandan constitution, and soon instituted an Advisory Defence Council composed of military officers with himself as the chairman. Amin placed military tribunals above the system of civil law, appointed soldiers to top government posts and parastatal agencies, and informed the newly inducted civilian cabinet ministers that they would be subject to military discipline.[15][28] Amin renamed the presidential lodge in Kampala from Government House to "The Command Post". He disbanded the General Service Unit (GSU), an intelligence agency created by the previous government, and replaced it with the State Research Bureau (SRB). SRB headquarters at the Kampala suburb of Nakasero became the scene of torture and executions over the next few years.[29] Other agencies used to persecute dissenters included the military police and the Public Safety Unit (PSU).[29]

Obote took refuge in Tanzania, having been offered sanctuary there by the Tanzanian President coup attempt.[30]

Persecution of ethnic and political groups

Amin, pictured in August 1973

Amin retaliated against the attempted invasion by Ugandan exiles in 1972, by purging the army of Obote supporters, predominantly those from the Acholi and Lango ethnic groups.[31] In July 1971, Lango and Acholi soldiers were massacred in the Jinja and Mbarara Barracks,[32] and, by early 1972, some 5,000 Acholi and Lango soldiers, and at least twice as many civilians, had disappeared.[33] The victims soon came to include members of other ethnic groups, religious leaders, journalists, artists, senior bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, students and intellectuals, criminal suspects, and foreign nationals. In this atmosphere of violence, many other people were killed for criminal motives or simply at will. Bodies were often dumped into the River Nile.[34]

The killings, motivated by ethnic, political, and financial factors, continued throughout Amin's eight-year reign.[33] The exact number of people killed is unknown. The Amnesty International puts the number killed at 500,000.[3] Among the most prominent people killed were Benedicto Kiwanuka, the former Prime Minister and Chief Justice; Janani Luwum, the Anglican archbishop; Joseph Mubiru, the former governor of the Central Bank; Frank Kalimuzo, the vice chancellor of Makerere University; Byron Kawadwa, a prominent playwright; and two of Amin's own cabinet ministers, Erinayo Wilson Oryema and Charles Oboth Ofumbi.[35]

Amin recruited his followers from his own tribe, the Kakwas, along with South Sudanese. By 1977, these 3 groups formed 60% of the 22 top generals and 75% of the cabinet. Similarly, Muslims formed 80% and 87.5% of these groups even though they were only 5% of the population. This helps explain why Amin survived 8 attempted coups.[36] The army grew from 10,000 to 25,000 by 1978. Amin's army was largely a mercenary force. Half the soldiers were South Sudanese, 26% Congolese, only 24% were Ugandan, mostly Muslim and Kakwa.[37]

"We are determined to make the ordinary Ugandan master of his own destiny and, above all, to see that he enjoys the wealth of his country. Our deliberate policy is to transfer the economic control of Uganda into the hands of Ugandans, for the first time in our country's history."

Idi Amin on the persecution of minorities[38]

In August 1972, Amin declared what he called an "economic war", a set of policies that included the expropriation of properties owned by Asians and Europeans. Uganda's 80,000 Asians were mostly from the Indian subcontinent and born in the country, their ancestors having come to Uganda when the country was still a British colony.[39] Many owned businesses, including large-scale enterprises, which formed the backbone of the Ugandan economy. On 4 August 1972, Amin issued a decree ordering the expulsion of the 60,000 Asians who were not Ugandan citizens (most of them held British passports). This was later amended to include all 80,000 Asians, except for professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and teachers. A plurality of the Asians with British passports, around 30,000, emigrated to the UK. Others went to Australia, Canada, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Sweden, Tanzania, and the U.S.[40][41][42] Amin expropriated businesses and properties belonging to the Asians and handed them over to his supporters. The businesses were mismanaged, and industries collapsed from lack of maintenance. This proved disastrous for the already declining economy.[28]

In 1977, Henry Kyemba, Amin's health minister and a former official of the first Obote regime, defected and resettled in the UK. Kyemba wrote and published A State of Blood, the first insider exposé of Amin's rule.

International relations

Initially, Amin was supported by Western powers such as Israel, West Germany and, in particular, Great Britain. During the late 1960s, Obote's move to the left, which included his Common Man's Charter and the nationalisation of 80 British companies, had made the West worried that he would pose a threat to Western capitalist interests in Africa and make Uganda an ally of the Soviet Union. Amin, who had served with the King's African Rifles and taken part in Britain's suppression of the Mau Mau uprising prior to Ugandan independence was known by the British as "intensely loyal to Britain"; this made him an obvious choice as Obote's successor. Although some have claimed that Amin was being groomed for power as early as 1966, the plotting by the British and other Western powers began in earnest in 1969, after Obote had begun his nationalisation programme.[43]

Following the expulsion of Ugandan Asians in 1972, most of whom were of Indian descent, India severed diplomatic relations with Uganda. The same year, as part of his "economic war", Amin broke diplomatic ties with the UK and nationalised eighty-five British-owned businesses.

That year, relations with Israel soured. Although Israel had previously supplied Uganda with arms, in 1972 Amin expelled Israeli military advisers and turned to Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and the Soviet Union for support.[31] Amin became an outspoken critic of Israel.[44] In return, Gaddafi gave financial aid to Amin.[45] In the 1974 French-produced documentary film General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait, Amin discussed his plans for war against Israel, using paratroops, bombers, and suicide squadrons.[13]

The Soviet Union became Amin's largest arms supplier.[5] East Germany was involved in the General Service Unit and the State Research Bureau, the two agencies which were most notorious for terror. Later during the Ugandan invasion of Tanzania in 1979, East Germany attempted to remove evidence of its involvement with these agencies.[6]

Idi Amin visits the Zairian dictator Mobutu during the Shaba I conflict in 1977.

In 1973, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Patrick Melady recommended that the United States reduce its presence in Uganda. Melady described Amin's regime as "racist, erratic and unpredictable, brutal, inept, bellicose, irrational, ridiculous, and militaristic".[46] Accordingly, the United States closed its embassy in Kampala.

In June 1976, Amin allowed an Air France airliner from Tel Aviv to Paris hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO) and two members of the German Revolutionäre Zellen to land at Entebbe Airport. There the hijackers were joined by three more. Soon after, 156 non-Jewish hostages who did not hold Israeli passports were released and flown to safety, while 83 Jews and Israeli citizens, as well as 20 others who refused to abandon them (among whom were the captain and crew of the hijacked Air France jet), continued to be held hostage. In the subsequent Israeli rescue operation, codenamed Operation Thunderbolt (popularly known as Operation Entebbe), on the night of 3–4 July 1976, a group of Israeli commandos were flown in from Israel and seized control of Entebbe Airport, freeing nearly all the hostages. Three hostages died during the operation and 10 were wounded; 7 hijackers, about 45 Ugandan soldiers, and 1 Israeli soldier, Yoni Netanyahu, were killed. A fourth hostage, 75-year-old Dora Bloch, an elderly Jewish Englishwoman who had been taken to Mulago Hospital in Kampala before the rescue operation, was subsequently murdered in reprisal. The incident further soured Uganda's international relations, leading the United Kingdom to close its High Commission in Uganda.[47]

Uganda under Amin embarked on a large military build-up, which raised concerns in Kenya. Early in June 1975, Kenyan officials impounded a large convoy of Soviet-made arms en route to Uganda at the port of Mombasa. Tension between Uganda and Kenya reached its climax in February 1976, when Amin announced that he would investigate the possibility that parts of southern Sudan and western and central Kenya, up to within 32 kilometres (20 mi) of Nairobi, were historically a part of colonial Uganda. The Kenyan Government responded with a stern statement that Kenya would not part with "a single inch of territory". Amin backed down after the Kenyan army deployed troops and armored personnel carriers along the Kenya–Uganda border.[48]

Deposition and exile

By 1978, the number of Amin's supporters and close associates had shrunk significantly, and he faced increasing dissent from the populace within Uganda as the economy and infrastructure collapsed from years of neglect and abuse. After the killings of Bishop Luwum and ministers Oryema and Oboth Ofumbi in 1977, several of Amin's ministers defected or fled into exile.[49] In November 1978, after Amin's vice president, General Mustafa Adrisi, was injured in a car accident, troops loyal to him mutinied. Amin sent troops against the mutineers, some of whom had fled across the Tanzanian border.[28] Amin accused Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere of waging war against Uganda, ordered the invasion of Tanzanian territory, and formally annexed a section of the Kagera Region across the boundary.[28][30]

In January 1979, Nyerere mobilised the Tanzania People's Defence Force and counterattacked, joined by several groups of Ugandan exiles who had united as the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). Amin's army retreated steadily, and, despite military help from Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Amin was forced to flee into exile by helicopter on 11 April 1979, when Kampala was captured. He escaped first to Libya, where he stayed until 1980, and ultimately settled in Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi royal family allowed him sanctuary and paid him a generous subsidy in return for his staying out of politics.[12] Amin lived for a number of years on the top two floors of the Novotel Hotel on Palestine Road in Jeddah. Brian Barron, who covered the Uganda–Tanzania war for the BBC as chief Africa correspondent, together with cameraman Mohamed Amin of Visnews in Nairobi, located Amin in 1980, and secured the first interview with him since his deposition.[50]

During interviews he gave during his exile in Saudi Arabia, Amin held that Uganda needed him, and never expressed Juma Oris. He reached Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), before Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko forced him to return to Saudi Arabia.


On 19 July 2003, one of Amin's wives, Madina, reported that he was in a coma and near death at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from kidney failure. She pleaded with the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, to allow him to return to Uganda for the remainder of his life. Museveni replied that Amin would have to "answer for his sins the moment he was brought back".[52] Amin's family decided to disconnect life support and Amin died at the hospital in Jeddah on 16 August 2003. He was buried in Ruwais Cemetery in Jeddah in a simple grave without any fanfare.[53] After Amin's death, David Owen revealed that when he was the British Foreign Secretary, he had proposed having Amin assassinated. He has defended this, arguing: "I'm not ashamed of considering it, because his regime goes down in the scale of Pol Pot as one of the worst of all African regimes".[54]

Family and associates

Remnants of Amin's palace on Lake Victoria.

A polygamist, Idi Amin married at least five women, three of whom he divorced. He married his first and second wives, Malyamu and Kay, in 1966. The next year, he married Nora, and then married Nalongo Madina in 1972. On 26 March 1974, he announced on Radio Uganda that he had divorced Malyamu, Nora, and Kay.[55][56] Malyamu was arrested in Tororo on the Kenyan border in April 1974 and accused of attempting to smuggle a bolt of fabric into Kenya. She later moved to London where she operates a restaurant in East London.[55][57][57] Kay Amin died under mysterious circumstances in the mid-1970s and her body was found dismembered. Nora fled to Zaire in 1979; her current whereabouts are unknown.[57]

In August 1975, during the Sarah Kyolaba, who was famously known as "Suicide Sarah." Sarah's boyfriend, with whom she had been living before she met Amin, vanished and was never heard from again. By 1993, Amin was living with the last nine of his children and a single wife, Mama a Chumaru (who appears to be his sixth and newest wife), the mother of the youngest four of his children. His last known child, daughter Iman, was born in 1992.[58] According to The Monitor, Amin married a few months before his death in 2003.[57]

Sources differ widely on the number of children Amin fathered; most say that he had 30 to 45.[2] Until 2003, Taban Amin (born 1955),[61] Idi Amin's eldest son, was the leader of

Political offices
Preceded by
Milton Obote
President of Uganda
Succeeded by
Yusufu Lule
  • The Idi Amin I knew, Brian Barron, BBC, 16 August 2003. Includes a video of Brian Barron interviewing Idi Amin in exile in 1980. The Atlantic – 1 April 2001 Memo and Quincy LS the series
  • Luck, Adam (13 January 2007). "'"Mad Ugandan dictator's son reveals all about his 'Big Daddy.  
  • General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait on Google Videos (Flash Video)
  •, a website devoted to Idi Amin's legacy created by his son Jaffar Amin
  • Idi Amin at the Internet Movie Database
  • Idi Amin (Character) at the Internet Movie Database

External links

  • African studies review. 25–26. University of California. 1982. 
  • Avirgan, Tony; Martha Honey (1982). War in Uganda: The Legacy of Idi Amin.  
  • Cotton, Fran (Ed., 1984) The Book of Rugby Disasters & Bizarre Records. Compiled by Chris Rhys. London. Century Publishing. ISBN 0-7126-0911-3
  • Decalo, Samuel (1989). Psychoses of Power: African Personal Dictatorships.  
  • Gwyn, David (1977). Idi Amin: Death-Light of Africa.  
  • Lloyd, Lorna (2007). Diplomacy with a difference: the Commonwealth Office of High Commissioner, 1880–2006. University of Michigan: Martinus Nijhoff.  
  • Melady, Thomas P.; Margaret B. Melady (1977). Idi Amin Dada: Hitler in Africa.  
  • Orizio, Riccardo (2004). Talk of the Devil: Encounters with Seven Dictators. Walker & Company.  
  • Palmowski, Jan (2003). Dictionary of Contemporary World History: From 1900 to the present day (Second ed.). Oxford University Press.  


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  3. ^ a b c d Keatley, Patrick (18 August 2003). "Obituary: Idi Amin".  
  4. ^ Roland Anthony Oliver, Anthony Atmore. Africa Since 1800. p. 272. 
  5. ^ a b Dale C. Tatum. Who influenced whom?. p. 177. 
  6. ^ a b Gareth M. Winrow. The Foreign Policy of the GDR in Africa, p. 141.
  7. ^ a b "Idi Amin: A Byword for Brutality".  
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  10. ^ O'Kadameri, Billie (1 September 2003). "Separate fact from fiction in Amin stories". Originally published in  
  11. ^ Elliott, Chris (30 November 2014). "Idi Amin's son complains about the Guardian’s obituary notice".  
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  21. ^ "The fans no team would want".  
  22. ^ "Country Studies: Uganda: Independence: The Early Years". Federal Research Division. United States Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
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  28. ^ a b c d "Country Studies: Uganda: Military Rule Under Amin". Federal Research Division. United States Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  29. ^ a b "Country Studies: Uganda: Post-Independence Security Services". Federal Research Division. United States Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  30. ^ a b "An Idi-otic Invasion". Time. 13 November 1978. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  31. ^ a b Tall, Mamadou (Spring–Summer 1982). "Notes on the Civil and Political Strife in Uganda". A Journal of Opinion (Issue: A Journal of Opinion, Vol. 12, No. 1/2) 12 (1/2): 41–44.  
  32. ^ Lautze, Sue. "Research on Violent Institutions in Unstable Environments: The livelihoods systems of Ugandan army soldiers and their families in a war zone" (PDF). Hertford College, Oxford University. 
  33. ^ a b Moore, Charles (17 September 2003). "Obituary: Idi Amin". Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 9 August 2009. 
  34. ^ "Disappearances and Political Killings: Human Rights Crisis of the 1990s: A Manual for Action" (PDF). Amnesty International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2009. 
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  36. ^ Stefan Lindemann, The ethnic politics of coup avoidance, page 20
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  39. ^ "Idi Amin had targeted Indians in 70s". The Times Of India. 15 April 2007. 
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  43. ^
  44. ^ Jamison, M. Idi Amin and Uganda: An Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood Press, 1992, pp.155–56
  45. ^ Idi Amin, Benoni Turyahikayo-Rugyema (1998). Idi Amin speaks: an annotated selection of his speeches. 
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  49. ^ a b "Not even an archbishop was spared". The Weekly Observer. 16 February 2006. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. 
  50. ^ Barron, Brian (16 August 2003). "The Idi Amin I knew". BBC News. Retrieved 16 September 2009. 
  51. ^ "Idi Amin, ex-dictator of Uganda, dies".  
  52. ^ "Idi Amin back in media spotlight". BBC. 25 July 2003. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  53. ^ "Idi Amin, ex-dictator of Uganda, dies".  
  54. ^ "BBC NEWS - Africa - UK considered killing Idi Amin". Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  55. ^ a b "Reign of Terror: The life and loves of a tyrant". Daily Nation. 20 August 2003. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  56. ^ Kavuma, Richard (18 June 2007). "Special Report: Big Daddy and his women". The Monitor. Archived from the original on 18 June 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  57. ^ a b c d e Kibirige, David (17 August 2003). "Idi Amin is dead". The Monitor. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  58. ^ Foden, Giles (4 August 2007). "Not quite a chip off the old block". The Guardian (London). 
  59. ^ African Studies Review (1982) p.63
  60. ^ "Amins row over inheritance". BBC News. 25 August 2003. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  61. ^ "Son of Idi Amin threatens to sue 'Last King Of Scotland' producers". Jet. 9 October 2006. p. 35. 
  62. ^ Mcconnell, Tristan (12 February 2006). "Return of Idi Amin's son casts a shadow over Ugandan election". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  63. ^ "Amin's son runs for mayor". BBC. 3 January 2002. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  64. ^ a b "'"Idi Amin's son lashes out over 'Last King. USA Today. 22 February 2007. 
  65. ^ "'"Idi Amin's son lashes out over 'Last King. USA Today. Associated Press. 22 February 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  66. ^ Levy, Megan (3 August 2007). "Idi Amin's son jailed for London gang attack". The Daily Telegraph. 
  67. ^ "Idi Amin's son jailed over death". BBC News. 3 August 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  68. ^ a b Bird, Steve (4 August 2007). "Idi Amins son was leader of London gang that stabbed teenager to death in street". The Times (London). 
  69. ^ Kelly, Jane (19 August 2003). "Uganda's white rat". Daily News. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  70. ^ Appiah, Anthony; Henry Louis Gates (1999). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. 
  71. ^ Lloyd, Lorna (2007) p.239
  72. ^ Orizio, Riccardo (21 August 2003). "Idi Amin's Exile Dream". New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  73. ^ Serugo, Moses (28 May 2007). "Special Report: The myths surrounding Idi Amin". The Monitor. Archived from the original on 28 May 2007. 
  74. ^ "Amin:The Wild Man of Africa". Time. 28 February 1977. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  75. ^ [2] Archived 14 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  76. ^ Kibazo, Joel (13 January 2007). "A Brute, Not a Buffoon". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 August 2009. ... Amin was widely portrayed as a comic figure. Yes, he had expelled the Asians and murdered a few people, but isn't that what was expected of Africa, I used to hear. 
  77. ^ Moore, Charles (17 September 2003). "Obituary: Idi Amin". Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 9 August 2009. Throughout his disastrous reign, he encouraged the West to cultivate a dangerous ambivalence towards him. His genial grin, penchant for grandiose self-publicity, and ludicrous public statements on international affairs led to his adoption as a comic figure. He was easily parodied ... however, this fascination, verging on affection, for the grotesqueness of the individual occluded the singular plight of his nation. 
  78. ^ "Amin: Actor was punished by God".  
  79. ^ Denton, Abby (19 August 2014). "What’s So Special About ‘The Richard Pryor Special’?".  
  80. ^ Pandey, Ramesh Nath (9 November 2012) [Kartik 24, 2069]. "Book Review: Culture of the Sepulchre".  


  1. ^ Many sources, like Encyclopædia Britannica, Encarta, and the Columbia Encyclopedia, hold that Amin was born in Koboko or Kampala c.1925, and that the exact date of his birth is unknown. Researcher Fred Guweddeko claimed that Amin was born on 17 May 1928,[9] but that is disputed.[10] The only certainty is that Amin was born some time during the mid-1920s.
  2. ^ According to Henry Kyema and the African Studies Review,[59] Idi Amin had 34 children. Some sources say Amin claimed to have fathered 32 children. A report in The Monitor says he was survived by 45 children,[57] while another in the BBC gives the figure of 54.[60]


  • "Idi Amin – the Amazin' Man song" (1975) by John Bird
  • "Idi Amin" (1978) by Black Randy and the Metrosquad
  • "Springtime in Uganda" (2004) by Blaze Foley (posthumous release)
  • The Collected Broadcasts of Idi Amin (1975) based on The Collected Bulletins of President Idi Amin (1974) and Further Bulletins of President Idi Amin (1975) by Alan Coren, portraying Amin as an amiable, if murderous, buffoon in charge of a tin-pot dictatorship. It was a British comedy album parodying Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, released in 1975 on Transatlantic Records. Performed by John Bird and written by Alan Coren, it was based on columns he wrote for Punch magazine.

Music and audio

  • State of Blood: The Inside Story of Idi Amin (1977) by Henry Kyemba
  • The General Is Up by Peter Nazareth
  • Ghosts of Kampala: The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin (1980) by George Ivan Smith
  • The Last King of Scotland (1998) by Giles Foden (fictional)
  • Idi Amin Dada: Hitler in Africa (1977) by Thomas Patrick Melady
  • General Amin (1975) by David Martin
  • I Love Idi Amin: The Story of Triumph under Fire in the Midst of Suffering and Persecution in Uganda (1977) by Festo Kivengere
  • Impassioned for Freedom: Uganda, Struggle Against Idi Amin (2006) by Eriya Kategaya
  • Confessions of Idi Amin: The chilling, explosive expose of Africa's most evil man – in his own words (1977) compiled by Trevor Donald
  • "Kahawa" by Donald Westlake; a thriller in which Amin is a minor character, but Amin's Uganda is portrayed in detail.
  • Culture of the Sepulchre (2012) by Madanjeet Singh (former Indian Ambassador to Uganda), ISBN 0670085731[80]



Film and television dramatisations

Portrayal in media and literature

During Amin's time in power, popular media outside of Uganda often portrayed him as an essentially comic and eccentric figure. In a 1977 assessment typical of the time, a Time magazine article described him as a "killer and clown, big-hearted buffoon and strutting martinet".[74] The comedy-variety series Saturday Night Live aired four Amin sketches between 1976–79, including one in which he was an ill-behaved houseguest in exile, and another in which he was a spokesman against venereal disease.[75] The foreign media were often criticised by Ugandan exiles and defectors for emphasizing Amin's self-aggrandizing eccentricities and taste for excess while downplaying or excusing his murderous behavior.[76] Other commentators even suggested that Amin had deliberately cultivated his eccentric reputation in the foreign media as an easily parodied buffoon in order to defuse international concern over his administration of Uganda.[77]

Amin became the subject of rumours and myths, including a widespread belief that he was a cannibal.[72] Some of the unsubstantiated rumours, such as the mutilation of one of his wives, were spread and popularised by the 1980 film Rise and Fall of Idi Amin and alluded to in the film The Last King of Scotland in 2006, a movie which earned actor Forest Whitaker an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Amin.[73]

Amin's egotistical behaviour and mental health have been the subjects of much speculation throughout his reign and life. He was described as having a quick-change and violent short temper; being charming, happy, and charismatic one minute and then suddenly angry, violent, and brutal the next, with little or no warning. Many have speculated that his behaviour was either the result of long-term syphilis of the brain or possibly undiagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder. As the years progressed, Amin's behaviour became more erratic, unpredictable, and outspoken. After the United Kingdom broke off all diplomatic relations with his regime in 1977, Amin declared he had defeated the British, and conferred on himself the decoration of CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire). His full self-bestowed title ultimately became: "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular", in addition to his officially-stated claim of being the uncrowned King of Scotland.[70] He never received of a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) or a Military Cross (MC). He conferred a doctorate of law on himself from Makerere University as well as the Victorious Cross (VC), a medal made to emulate the British Victoria Cross.[7][71]

A 1977 caricature of Amin in military and presidential attire by Edmund S. Valtman

Erratic behaviour, self-bestowed titles, and media portrayal

Among Amin's closest associates was the British-born Bob Astles, who is considered by many to have been a malignant influence and by others as having been a moderating presence.[69] Isaac Malyamungu was an instrumental affiliate and one of the more feared officers in Amin's army.[49]

On 3 August 2007, Faisal Wangita (born in 1983),[66] one of Amin's sons, was convicted for playing a role in a murder in London.[67] Wangita's mother was Amin's fifth wife, Sarah Kyolaba (born 1955)[68] a former go-go dancer, but known as 'Suicide Sarah', because she was a go-go dancer for the Ugandan Army's Revolutionary Suicide Mechanised Regiment Band.[68]

[64] Jaffar is the tenth of Amin's 40 official children by seven official wives.[65] to speak out in his father's defence. Jaffar Amin said he was writing a book to rehabilitate his father's reputation.[64] prompted one of his sons, Jaffar Amin (born in 1967),The Last King of Scotland In early 2007, the award-winning film [63] Council in 2002 but was not elected.Njeru Town Another of Amin's sons, Haji Ali Amin, ran for election as Chairman (i.e. mayor) of [62]

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